Top 100 Winemakers

Overview

Winemakers best new releases. Timepieces from Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, DeWitt, Jean Dundand, and more.  Rough and refined cutting-edge diamond designs, plus Maserati's grand-slam and Thailand's new island escapes.

From This Issue

Robb Design Portfolio: Glasses of 1917 and ’25

Before austrian architect Oswald Haerdtl (1899–1959) taught at Vienna’s School of Applied Arts, he studied there under Josef Hoffmann (1870–1956), a leader in Europe’s modern architecture movement. Hoffmann’s influence seems evident in Haerdtl’s Ambassador liqueur decanter (fifth from left). The crystal vessel—a 1925 design from Haerdtl’s Ambassador Service, part of the Museum of Modern Art’s […]

FrontRunners: A Geography Lesson

A Geography Lesson can be enthralling, or so Chicago’s Field Museum plans to demonstrate. The exhibit Maps: Finding Our Place in the World (www.fieldmuseum.org), which will run from November 2 through January 28, will include more than 130 maps, globes, and atlases from ancient to modern times—some quite fanciful, such as the one shown here: […]

FrontRunners: Mount of Information

Frauscher, an Austrian maker of runabouts, has created a boat for surfing—Web surfing, that is. The company recently unveiled a prototype of a 22-foot Frauscher 686 Lido (www.frauscherboats.com) packed with information technology, including a Lenovo computer with a water-resistant 15-inch display. The $150,000 craft, which reaches 55 mph, also features an HTC S710 smart phone, […]

FrontRunners: Grave Expressions

When China’s Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, who initiated the construction of the Great Wall, died in 210 B.C., an army of life-size terra-cotta figures was sculpted to guard his tomb. These warrior statues, which were uncovered in 1974, have garnered considerable attention, but other, less publicized items also were found near the soldiers. These include terra-cotta […]

FrontRunners: Tall Orders

The striking, 7-foot-tall KEF Muon loudspeakers (www.kef.com) shown at left derive their sound quality from the engineers at the renowned British audio marque KEF and their curves from industrial designer Ross Lovegrove, known for his work on Apple’s iMac computer and Sony’s Walkman. The speakers are constructed of aluminum formed into a wavy shape that […]

FrontRunners: Smooth Operator

While the Oracle Audio Technologies CD 2500 Mk II Player (www.oracle-audio.com) may resemble a spaceship from a 1950s science fiction film, it transports music, not aliens. The compact disc player’s four-legged design helps shield it from vibration, smoothing the sometimes harsh digital sound of CDs. Nylon and urethane absorbers are used throughout the player to […]

FrontRunners: From the Robb Cellar

If the California wine industry might be said to have anything akin to a mad scientist, it would surely be Leo McCloskey. The president and cofounder of Enologix—a wine consultancy firm in Sonoma County—and holder of a doctorate in biology, McCloskey has committed his talents and time to decoding the chemical secrets of fine (and […]

FrontRunners: Jet Setting

Cirrus Design, maker of the impressive SR20 and SR22 piston-driven aircraft, has revealed more details about its upcoming jet. The company recently announced that “the-jet” by Cirrus (www.cirrusdesign.com) probably will fly for the first time next year and reach customers in 2010 or 2011. A mock-up (pictured above) shows that the roughly $1 million aircraft […]

FrontRunners: French Connection

Boston’s L’Espalier and its sister restaurant, Sel de la Terre, have reinforced their reputation for savoir faire with their launch of the catering service Au Soleil (www.ausoleilcatering.com), which offers fine dining for events ranging from intimate teas to large weddings. Au Soleil’s entrées combine the opulent New England–French menu of L’Espalier with Sel de la […]

FrontRunners: Select Smoke

The José Seijas Signature Series 2000, the eponymous creation of the master blender for the world’s largest cigar company, Altadis, is one of our favorite light cigars. Others apparently agree, because Altadis has expanded the line with several new sizes. The most welcome of these is a 4¼ x 46 figurado that is comparable in […]

Travel: Dublin Vision

As the genealogy butler at the Shelbourne Dublin hotel, Irishwoman Helen Kelly has noted a peculiar effect her homeland has on foreigners. “Something happens to people when they set foot on Irish soil,” she says. “They want to claim Irish lineage.” Kelly guides guests of the Shelbourne on their ancestral quests, helping them research their […]

Dining: Mario Batali Goes West

Mario Batali has been convinced that the Las Vegas scene is as sophisticated as any other—or at least that his new restaurant’s patrons are adventurous eaters. The menu for B&B Ristorante, the fine dining restaurant that Batali opened in April in the city’s Venetian hotel, includes four offal dishes. The word offal covers tongue, internal organs, […]

Wine: Lightning in a Bottle

“Each of us is all the sums he has not counted,” wrote Thomas Wolfe of the web of human relationships that controls our individual destinies. In life’s apparently random collision of human bodies and minds, Wolfe discovers a fateful order, “that dark miracle of chance which makes new magic in a dusty world.” Coup de […]

Spirits: Lifting a Spirit

Grappa is not what it used to be, according to Antonella Nonino. “You would never find grappa in the liquor cabinets of the well-to-do,” says Nonino, whose family has been distilling the spirit since 1897 in Friuli, in Italy’s northeast corner. Grappa’s ascension began in 1973, Nonino explains, when her parents, Giannola and Benito, created […]

Wardrobe: Measuring Up

The common way to take an arm measurement for a made-to-measure suit is to hold the tape at the seam where the garment’s arm attaches to the shoulder and measure downward toward the cuff. This also is the wrong way, says Italian suitmaker Silvano Ravazzolo. “When they hold the tape on your shoulder,” he says, […]

Jewelry: Pursuit of Perfection

Of the tens of thousands of diamonds that I have viewed through the loupe over my 40-year career as a private jeweler, only a small number have stood out as truly exceptional and singularly beautiful. Even rarer has been the perfect stone. Last spring, an associate of mine, whose family has been cutting and polishing […]

Art: Snap Judgments

Maddie Bill is on vacation, but she is not relaxing. The 9-year-old and her 6-year-old sister, Daphne, stand shin-deep in a shallow river near their family’s summer home in Connecticut, scanning the water for crawdads. Moments earlier, their dad, Tony, had announced, “I’ll pay one dollar to anyone who catches a crawdad.” Soon Maddie is […]

Home Electronics: Great Room

Most rooms are hostile environments for electronic home entertainment: Echoes blur sonic details, walls resonate in sympathy with the speakers, and bass booms uncontrollably. The surroundings are no more hospitable to the picture: Walls and furnishings usually reflect light from a TV or video projector and rob the picture of its contrast. Consequently, often even […]

Boating: Quick Change

The sports car is heading straight for Michigan’s Orchard Lake. A fellow in his 20s, bending over his dinghy near the boat ramp, glances up and gapes when he sees the car coming his way. The vehicle passes him, barrels down the ramp, and plunges into the lake. Inside the car, Neil Jenkins presses a […]

Autos: Topless Turbo

As the Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet shimmies and shakes on the German autobahn, I conclude that an oval racetrack might be a better venue for verifying the car’s 193 mph top speed. However, at saner, double-digit velocities, the ride is undeniably tame, and tall side windows and a wind deflector marginalize the normally deafening sound […]

Aviation: Class Act

Kevin Cameron’s first experience with a flight school appalled him. “I walked into the rather shabby office and found a group of people dressed in scruffy clothes,” recalls Cameron, the CEO of a healthcare company. “My instructor had virtually no experience, and when she walked me to the plane for the first flight, an emergency […]

Sport: Purebred Sledding

Rough start, I think, as my sled—pulled by eight yapping Siberian huskies that suddenly have become a blur of tangled harnesses and black and white fur—skids out of control across a frozen driveway. Per instructions, I had begun the ride with one boot firmly planted on the drag mat, a device designed to slow forward […]

Golf: Cattle Drive

The remote location of his Argentine cattle ranch—some 1,000 miles from Buenos Aires—did not dissuade Jorge Taylor from converting a portion of Estancia Chapelco into a golf resort and community. Nor did it matter that he never had picked up a club, or that Argentina’s golf course designers had displayed a dearth of innovative ideas. […]

Vacation Homes: Bearing Fruit

Highway 30 wraps around Maui’s northwest coast for 25 miles, passing high-rise condominiums, construction sites, and beaches lined with hotels and packed with tourists. But the scenery changes suddenly when the road ends at Kapalua, on the island’s northwest tip, where the Maui Land & Pineapple Co. has operated a plantation for nearly 100 years. […]

Home: Where the Art Is

Andrew Zega and Bernd H. Dams’ architectural watercolors are on display at New York’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, at the Musée de I’lle-de-France at Sceaux, and in five books that they have coauthored. (Their latest, the $1,400 Versailles: The Château and Its Satellites [Paris: Connaissance et Memoires, 2007], presents the pairs’ paintings of historic French […]

Feature: A Matter of Substance

Lightweight and strong, carbon fiber is regarded as the state-of-the art material for building high-tech speed machines including Formula One racecars and America’s Cup yachts. In the upper realms of watchmaking, however, carbon fiber seems commonplace when compared with some of the other materials being employed: silicon, palladium, tantalum, and magnesium—elements that may be familiar […]

Top 100 Vintners: South America

ARGENTINA Despite a long, rich history of viticulture, Argentina has only in recent decades entered the arena of fine winemaking, having previously focused largely on bargain-oriented wines. The Mendoza region produces three-quarters of the nation’s wines and all of its very best reds, predominantly Malbec and Tempranillo. Achával-Ferrer Established in 1998, this partnership between a […]

Feature: Pocket Protectors

When he is at home on sunday mornings, Frank Müller, CEO of German watchmaker Glashütte Original, likes to select a pocket watch from his collection and examine the antique movement. He will shut the case, twist the winding stem, and then give the watch a shake to set the balance wheel in motion. “It’s like […]

Feature: Gran Slam

Maserati has loosed from its Modena stables the long-awaited GranTurismo, and it is a formidable machine. Ostensibly a replacement for the GranSport, the GranTurismo is actually anything but: It bears little relationship to its Giugiaro-designed predecessor. Their respective surnames—Sport and Turismo—announce the distinctions between the two cars, that they have purposes and personalities that are […]

Feature: Top 100 Vintners

The maker of lists must also be a ready apologist. The following catalog of the world’s most outstanding wine producers could easily be twice its present length without compromising the quality of the entrants. In compiling it, we focused on vintners who have consistently turned out wines of the first rank for at least a […]

Feature: Where There’s Smoke

After Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959, many of the country’s cigar makers decamped for more favorable political climates. Most settled in the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and soon thereafter, each of those countries became known for cigars with a certain taste: Smokers regarded products from the Dominican Republic as mild and […]

Feature: Holiday Essentials

Spirits are called spirits precisely because they capture essences, and in doing so they enable us to gain a greater appreciation—and enjoyment—of the sources from which they derive. Brandy is the essence of grapes, and it expresses that fruit better than wine does. Whiskey is the distillation of grain or corn, cereals that have been […]

Sneak Preview: The Robb Report 100 Hotels

The abundance of rankings and ratings systems available to travelers can serve more to confuse than to inform. Stars, diamonds, numerals, and even crowns purport to denote comparative quality, but they frequently fall short of answering the most fundamental question: Which hotel is the best in its given location? On newsstands this November, the second […]

Feature: The One Constant

Designer George Constant did not give the new owner of this Oyster Bay Cove residence on Long Island, N.Y., much choice. Constant arrived at their first meeting with a single fabric sample for each piece of furniture and just one recommendation for the material and finish for each wall and floor treatment. “My client looked […]

Top 100 Vintners: Europe

AUSTRIA Austria has been creating wine since Roman Emperor Probus overturned the ban on growing grapes north of the Alps, in part to avoid mischief by giving his idle armies something to do. Later, monasteries adopted the region’s vineyards, and over the centuries, Austrian viticulture has flourished, giving the world some truly great wines. While […]

Top 100 Vintners: United States

CALIFORNIA NAPA VALLEY California is arguably the most important wine-producing region in the New World, and Napa Valley is its viticultural heart. The valley stretches 30 miles north from Carneros to Calistoga but is only about 5 miles wide, sandwiched between the Mayacama and Vaca mountain ranges. European immigrants in the 19th century recognized its […]

Top 100 Vintners: Australia/New Zealand

AUSTRALIA Much is made in the press of the surge of premium wines from Australia, but one wonders how much of this merely results from a surge in the amount of wine the country makes. The Australian wine output is both prodigious (1.43 million liters in 2005–2006) and varied, as vintners Down Under now plant […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: Las Vegas The Mansion at MGM Grand

The promotional literature provided in the villas at the Mansion at MGM Grand mentions the property’s “legendary wishing well.” The text fails to explain what makes the water feature so renowned—or how anything at an eight-year-old hotel can be “legendary”—but a glance inside the well offers fuel for speculation. Located in a quadranglelike space not […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: Moscow The Ritz-Carlton

Few hotels better representrecent social, political, cultural, and economic changes than the Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, which opened in July within spying distance of Red Square, the Kremlin, and Lenin’s tomb. Located on Tverskaya Street—Moscow’s version of Broadway—the 334-room property occupies the site of what was once a shady, Soviet-era hotel that was about as welcoming as […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: Boston Intercontinental

Like mainsails strainingagainst a spar, the concave- and convex-walled towers of the new InterContinental Boston appear to billow over the city’s waterfront, including the location where the Tea Party occurred in 1773. From the U-shaped, pewter-covered bar in the hotel’s RumBa lounge, you can view the tea-dumping site while sipping a more potent beverage that […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: Venice Bauer Il Palazzo

During winter’s aqua alta, or high-water season, Venetians forgo designer shoes and instead slosh around their city in rubber boots. Sirens warn residents and visitors to move to higher ground as rising Adriatic tides creep into the streets, often for a few hours each day. Francesca Bortolotto Possati, owner of the Bauer Il Palazzo hotel, […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: Mexico City Four Seasons

During his brief reign as emperor of Mexico in the mid-1860s, Austrian-born Maximilian I ordered the construction of a wide boulevard that would traverse the country’s capital in the same fashion that the Champs-Élysées passed through Paris. The Hapsburg ruler, whom Napoléon III appointed to the throne, was executed by Mexican nationalists in 1867, but […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: Tokyo The Ritz-Carlton

Ricco Deblank,general manager of the new Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo, likes to tell the story of a couple who spent an evening sipping Diamond Is Forever cocktails in the hotel’s 45th-floor sky lobby. After ordering one of the $15,000 libations—which include a one-carat diamond at the bottom of the glass—the gentleman ordered a second for his companion […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: London The Dorchester

It may be a stretch to suggest that the course of World War II changed in spring 1944 when General Eisenhower, unhappy with the decor at Claridge’s, checked out of the hotel and took a 10-minute stroll through the streets of the Mayfair district to the Dorchester. But at his new lodging, in what is […]

Wings & Water: Scotch and Water

On clear nights, say the inhabitants of Crinan, a village in southwestern Scotland, you can hear bagpipe music drifting across the bay from Duntrune Castle. The instrument, they contend, is played by the ghost of a handless bagpiper. In 1644, the MacDonald clan laid siege to the 12th-century castle, which the Campbells occupied. A spy […]

Scotch and Water: Right Makes Might

In a sailboat race this September, a 76-foot sloop called White Wings crossed the finish line before Black Watch, a 68-foot yawl—but Black Watch won. White Wings lost the race because its skipper had disregarded a fundamental rule of sailing. The upset occurred during the second contest in the two-race Museum of Yachting Classic Yacht […]

Journeys: Thai High

June never spits,” says Tim Boda, hotel manager of the Anantara resort on the Thai island of Samui. Jirachai “June” Sethisakko, Anantara’s slight, 31-year-old sommelier, looks up from his glass of wine and smiles. “With 27 I spit,” he says, a reference to the number of vintages he samples during the marathon tastings at Thailand’s […]

Leisure: Cultural Evolution

Listening to Bach’s Cantata no. 131 and talking about cheese while tending to the machinery that tugs on the teats of his Jersey cows—is there a better way to spend a Sunday morning in Vermont? Not for John Putnam, a 50-year-old lawyer–turned– cheese maker. The music, courtesy of Vermont Public Radio’s Sunday Bach program, comes […]

Style: Trophy Life

The smoke is suffocating inside Stefano Ricci’s office, where he puffs away on a cigarette while sitting behind an enormous glass-topped desk. Towering over him is one of his prized hunting trophies: an upright, full-grown polar bear that he bagged during a dogsled expedition through the Northwest Territories. Ricci’s son Niccolo, a handsome 30-year-old, enters […]

Contributors: On Account of Taste

How does one select the world’s top 100 wine producers? “Obviously, it’s always a matter of personal opinion,” senior vice president and resident oenophile Brett Anderson says of the list that he compiled for “Top 100 Vintners”. “I think it’s important that readers know that this is just my opinion.” Anderson notes that he did […]

From The Editors: The Black Apostle

Call them terroir-ists, the seven Languedoc winemakers who, in June, appeared on French national television and, while wearing black balaclavas to conceal their identities, declared that “blood will flow” if President Nicolas Sarkozy did not do something to alleviate the malaise afflicting southern France’s wine industry. Languedoc is not represented in “Top 100 Vintners”, because […]

FrontRunners: Time Is Money

In 1957, Piaget introduced its ultrathin Caliber 9P, a hand-wound mechanical movement measuring only 2 mm thick. To underscore its accomplishment, the Geneva watchmaker crafted a watch with the movement that was slim enough to be housed in a partly hollowed-out $20 gold coin. The company recently reissued the Caliber 9P and placed it in […]

Feature: Diamond Futures

Most people, Neil Lane suspects, will not recognize that the stones in his 596-carat Maharajah necklace, the $375,000 centerpiece of his new collection for De Beers, are diamonds—263 of them, all polished but essentially rough. “I love the element of surprise when working with rough diamonds,” Lane says, noting that he selected stones that exhibit […]

One Last Thing…

  The Item.Irish artist Harry Clarke completed this stained-glass window in 1930 (a year before his death from tuberculosis) for the Republic of Ireland government. The then-new government commissioned the window in 1926 and planned to install it in the International Labor building at the League of Nations in Geneva. The window’s panels depict scenes […]

The Robb Report 100 Hotels: New Orleans The Ritz-Carlton

Just beyond the walls of the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans, Bourbon Street, the St. Louis Cathedral, and the many other attractions of the French Quarter beckon. But you need not leave the Ritz’s century-old, 14-story structure on Canal Street to experience the soul of the city: its people. Several nights each week, Marva Wright, also […]